0b65cdb9bd90edd60b3af64015f50fb7Nothing prepares you for the moment where life as you know it, changes forever.

In an instant, the days of “I” and “me” are gone and are replaced with both “we” and “us”.

From the moment you set eyes on them, it’s love: pure, unconditional, primitive love. There’s a rush of emotion like no other; a combination of panic, joy, dread, fear, and a happiness that is paired with an instinct to protect at all costs.

You worry at every stage. From making sure that they aren’t too hot or too cold, to their first steps and worrying if they’ll make friends at school, to whether their boyfriend will be kind to them or whether they’ll pass their exams. In fact, your worries are so extensive and uncontrollable that you start to worry about your own sanity.

Then the time comes for her to leave home when all rationale goes out of the window. Will she eat well? Will she be warm enough? Will she be safe or will she choke on her own vomit? The list is endless and leaving your child alone in a city 400miles from home gives you a pain like no other. As you drive off with a stuck smile and false wit about not drinking too much, your pride quickly fades and is replaced by a sense of loss. However nonsensical it all seems, there’s no controlling it, leaving you feeling helpless and exhausted in its wake. However over the top, and at whatever age, your little one leaving home feels a lot like a bereavement.

These irrational thoughts don’t just stop at daughters as one might suspect. Even sons who are reaching the ripe old age of 28 get in on the act. But instead of picturing leachy men in bars or skirts that are too short, my vivid imagination veered towards muggings, stabbings and fights with the bouncers of west London when he was out on a Saturday night.

Once he had surpassed his teenage years, I thought my worries would have died down, until I heard the dreaded words: “I’m going travelling”.

And off he went, to far off places that I have only ever dreamt of seeing, when the thoughts came flooding back in. The worries – the irrational ones, the ones that drive you crazy at 4am – return with a vengeance. But this time it’s different. This time it really is out of your control. Kidnappings, stolen organs, yellow fever and rabid dogs were never too far out of reach for my imagination. Throughout all of this inner turmoil, you smile and show photos to your work colleagues when they ask how he’s getting on, and the sane you knows that he’s having the best time as he makes new friends, treks across distant lands and tries the local cuisine because that’s what you do when you’re trying to “find yourself”. Plus, the chances of anything actually happening to him are as rare as rocking horse shit.

So when all the fighting is over, the unfinished homework is laid to rest, the wobbles of teenage years, endless broken hearts, illness, globe trotting and all week partying are a distant memory, the time comes for them to share their life with someone other than you.

And how do you cope? You do so by reflecting on how proud you are of them, how they’ve grown into the person you always wanted them to be, how your heart still leaps when you see them and how unashamedly you smile when you think of them.

So I ask you again, how do you cope? You do so by hoping that the person they have chosen loves them the way you do: purely, unconditionally and primitively, for the rest of their lives.

When you are sure of this, and only when you are absolutely sure, only then can you then begin to let go.

Written by my mum, a living legend. 

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The Mother

It would be doing a disservice to my mum if I adhered to the clichés of that umbilical bond and called her my best friend. That she is, however, she is also otherwise known as “Superwoman”.

By day, she is a five foot short, inoffensive little lady.  By night, she is a fearless little pocket rocket with the ability to give Nikki Minaj a run for her money on the dance floor. She is, quite simply, one of a kind.

I know for a fact that she will organise my entire wedding to military precision the way that she wants it. She’ll drive me crazy fussing over my first-born. She frowns when I recall exciting tales from traveling that involve too much tequila and she will forever believe that even the longest of maxi skirts are too provocative.

But she’s not all bad. We spend hours dancing around the kitchen to music that she really shouldn’t know. We can spend an unheard of amount of time nursing two skinny cappuccinos on sunny afternoons. I talk to her about everything from dates and break-ups to uni and make-ups. And for everything that I censor orally, she finds out on here anyway. So to love me despite knowing everything about me, she has to be pretty special.

So mother, marge, rhino or mum…

I know I owe you thousands of pounds, I am aware that I leave wet towels on the floor, my room is a mess and I moan constantly about not having my dream job.

But all I can say is that when I finally grow up and you’re all old and wrinkly, I’ll show you how grateful I am whilst changing your bed pan. For the fifth time that day.

Thanks for being the best.

Happy Mother’s Day.

The Young Ones

I remember when I first heard someone whisper the words “She’s pregnant”. And I, like the rest of my peers thought ‘Holy shit. Her life is over’. But now, at the ripe old age of 22, I beg to differ with my ignorant teenage self and think that actually, it’s possible that her life had just begun.

People nowadays get too caught up in the career hunt and I feel as though the importance of basic family values has been misplaced. Believe it or not, even well into the twenty first century, some people are still born to be full time parents rather than doctors or barristers, and I think we forget in this fast moving world that parenthood is a commitment and an achievement which arguably exceeds earning a hefty wage.

This is something that I think most people appreciate. But when it comes to teen mums, the first thing that we Brits seem to imagine is a velour tracksuit; lit fag in hand, with practically a chicken nugget being pushed around in a pram. But in my experience, there are lots of young mums out there who can look after their children and are able to cope with the stresses of motherhood. I’m not saying that I would recommend taking the path of a young parent; the road is not smooth sailing, opportunities are limited and many people can’t tie their own shoe laces, let alone look after a little one. But beautiful little accidents do happen and I wholeheartedly admire young parents for what they’re doing, because I certainly couldn’t.

Splashed across facebook I see photos of young mums who have one, maybe more children and I commend them for their hard work and their ability to enjoy their lives whilst everyone around them is carefree and partying with worries reaching as far as getting hold of the latest pair of Topshop heels. These young women raise their children, with integrity I might add, and they each look more than happy and content with their lot in life. This is more than I can say for a lot of people.

Not only am I addressing young mums here, but young fathers too who are very often forgotten about or assumed to be a waste of space. This isn’t fair. Just the other day, I met a young guy who was a father bringing up his daughter alone, and although I could tell that he was knackered and utterly out of his depth in regards to which Barbie to buy her for Christmas; he was doing the best he could. And I admired him for that.

So, whether you’re a fifty or fifteen year old parent, if you can make a baby smile like the one in this picture, then in my opinion, you’ve got to be doing something right.